Roque, who scolds Filipinos for being 'pasaway', justifies 'side trip' to dolphin park

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Roque, who scolds Filipinos for being 'pasaway', justifies 'side trip' to dolphin park
In this July 1, 2020 photo, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque is seen visiting Ocean Adventure park in Subic Bay.
Facebook / Ocean Adventure Subic Bay

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday defended a side trip he took to a marine theme park which was met with widespread backlash from netizens.

Roque is among the government officials who have been reminding people to stay at home except for essential trips and blaming people's supposed stubborness for the continued spread of COVID-19.

"If anyone was offended by the pictures they saw, I apologize, I'm only human. If you ask those working in Malacañang, I don't get the weekends off. Even when breaks are needed, they are only squeezed in when possible," Roque said in Filipino during his daily virtual briefing.

Pictures of Roque swimming with dolphins and conversing with several people at the marine park were posted on Ocean Adventures's Facebook page on Wednesday. The post has since been taken down.

In one of the pictures in the now-deleted post, Roque is seen conversing with two other people — all three of them were not wearing masks. A fourth bystander, meanwhile, was pictured with a mask on.

The enforcement of the "no mask, no entry" rule for public spaces is required at every level of community quarantine.

Roque: I am authorized to go out

Roque maintained that he did not violate any community quarantine regulations when he went to Bataan, as he is an authorized person outside residence (APOR).

However, APORs are only allowed to leave home for essential errands or for work.

He said his visit to the dolphin park was merely a "side trip," and he was not headed to Bataan for leisure.

"I am from Bataan and it was my first time to return home due to the [modified genaral community quarantine]. I went home to check on my businesses and ventures there," Roque said in Filipino.

This comes after several officials have been caught violating community quarantine rules amid their insistence that the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening due to 'pasaway' or complacent and disobedient Filipinos. Data, however, shows that these claims are largely unsubstantiated.

Roque vehemently denied that his trip to the park is in any way comparable to the mañanita held for Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas which violated community quarantine rules.

"I didn't party, I was alone with four dolphins," the presidential spokesperson said in Filipino.

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